Various vAda-s in advaita (was Re: A few questions)

Giri gmadras at ENGR.UCDAVIS.EDU
Thu Jan 30 22:10:56 CST 1997

On Thu, 30 Jan 1997, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> I was aware that my original statement could be misleading, but didn't
> bother to elaborate upon it. prakASAnanda sarasvatI and his commentator
> themselves state that their particular dr.shTi-sr.shTi view was not
> followed by any of the earlier teachers (as per a verse quoted in S. N.
> Dasgupta's History of Indian Philosophy, vol. 3). I am unsure whether this
> dr.shTi-sr.shTi view can be identified closely with eka-jIva vAda or not.

        The author of the book 'A source book of advaita vedanta.' does
identify the ekajiva-vaada with the drishti-srishti view and mentions
that the vivarna school would reject these arguments. Please see below.

[Sorrry for the long e-mail, but thought of providing some objections to
the drshti-sristi view].

>From Chapter 9, 'A Source book of Advaita Vedanta.'

[aashraya - locus ; vishaya - object]

        The dispute about the locus of ignorance is central to the
doctrinal divisons between the two main sub-schools of Advaita- Bhamati
and the Vivarna. According to the Bhamatti, the individual self must be
the locus of avidya, because such "ignorance" cannot intelligibly be
assigned to Brahman; and there must be a plurality of individuals each
with his own avidya, for if one person is released from the bondage of
ignorance it does not mean that everyone is released. There may be a
primal or public ignorance (mula-avidya), but there assuredly is an
individual or private one (tula-avidya). The Vivarna school criticizes
the Bhamati position on the grounds that it is unintelligble for the jiva
to be both a product of avidya and its source. It argues that Brahman,
the Self, must be the locus of avidya. Many individuals may be said to
exist as different reflections of Brahman on the mirror of ignorance.

        In the later development of Advaita, a doctrine known as
ekajiva-vada, the theory that there is only one individual, was also put
forward (namely by Prakasananda in vedanta-siddhanta-muktavali) which
tended towards a kind of solipsism and "subjective idealism"
(drsti-srsti-vada - the theory that perception is or precedes creation),
but this extreme doctrine is not really part of the classical vivarna
school and it would clearly have been rejected by Samkara.

**end quote

The following is from Appaya diksita's siddhantalesasamgraha (translated
by S.S. Suryanarayana Sastri) which is quoted in the above book.
Translation of 3:711,

        Those, however, who maintain that perception is creation
(drsti-srsti-vadins) accept, for the whole world of waking, creation
contemporaneous with perception, since the uncognized reality of what is
assumptive is unintelligble; and they say that even the waking experience
of elephant etc., is not an object of the sense of sight, since the
cognition of the concomitance of the perception of pot etc. with the
contact with the sense of sight, which is irreconcilable with the
non-existence of pot etc., prior to the perception, is justified by them,
only as in the case of dreams.

        Now, if basing oneself on (the view of) perception as creation,
one admits of the whole world of waking that it is assumptive, who is he
that posits it ? Is it the unconditioned self or the self conditioned by
nescience ? Not the first; for, since, even in release there exists the
person who posits without the need of any other instruments, the world
would persist, and there would be non-distinction from the state of
migration. Not the second; for, since nescience has itself to be positedm
the established of the person who posits has to be declared even prior to
the assumption of that (nescience).
        To this some say thus : he who is conditioned by the earlier
posited nesciences is he who posits the subsequent nesciences. And since,
in the case of the stream of positer and posited, it cannot be said
'This is the first', there is not the defect of infinite regress.

** end quote

Swami Satprakashananda in his book 'Methods of knowledge through Advaita
Vedanat' quotes several treatises. He writes,

'The external world can be said to unreal in two different senses: either
it is altogether non-existent, or it is a mere form of inner
consciousness appearing as something outside as in dream. Subjective
idealism (vijnanavada) maintains the second position.

        Had the external things been non-existent like the horns of a
hare, they could not be perceived by the senses. Since they are objects
of perception, their existence cannot be denied. Nor can they be reduced
to mere forms of internal cognition, as subjectivism assumes. In the
perception of an object we are conscious not only of cognition itself but
also of the object as distinct from and external to it. Nobody perceives
the object as identical with cognition itself. The object and its
cognition are two distinct facts of experience. While one is external,
the other is internal. Since the object is perceived as external to and
distinct from the act of cognition its separate existence should be
acknowledged, Thus argues Shankara while refuting the subjective idealism
of the Yogachara school. Says He (BSB 2:2.28) : 'Nobody perceives
cognition itself as a pillar, as a wall, and so forth, but everybody
perceives them as objects of cognition.'

Jadunath Sinha in the book 'Indian Realism' comments,
'Shankara argues that an object is perceived because it actually EXISTS
external to the mind; an object is distinctly perceived as existing
independent of the act of perception. No one can argue a fact of
experience out of existence.'

Swami Prakashananda says
'The idealist view that physical objects have no existence in themselves
but are mere externalization of mental ideas is not tenable...
There is a vital difference between a thing cognized, a tree for instance
and its idea. The one cannot be objectification of the other. The idea of
the tree is invariably cognized as something internal and non-material,
whereas the tree is cognized as something concrete and external. In
actual experience, the perception of the tree precedes the ideal of the
tree, aand not vice-versa. We get the idea of the tree from its percetion
and not the perception of the tree from its idea. Moreover, unlike the
idea, the perception of the tree is spatially and temporarily determined.
The idea of the tree we can carry within us wherever you go, but the
perception of the tree we cannot. We can recall the idea of the tree at
will, but not its percept. Had the perception of the tree been nothing
more than the externalization of the internal idea, then a person could
have the experience of the tree anywhere without sharing it with others.
But this never happens except in hallucination...


The view that mind and sense-organs construct the diversified world on
the ground of Reality is not admitted by vedanta...The sensible world is
not the projection of the finite mind. The human mind and the
sense-organs are revelatory or interpretative rather than creative. ...

**end quote


'I am, therefore I think.'

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